Security forces patrolling streets in Freetown

By; Amara Thoronka



The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the break into the military armoury at the Wilberforce Military Barracks in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone. The West African regional bloc has called for those involved to be arrested and prosecuted.

“ECOWAS has learnt with utter disgust a plot by certain individuals to acquire arms and disturb the peace and constitutional order in Sierra Leone. ECOWAS condemns this act and calls for the arrest and prosecution of all participants in this illegal act,” a statement from the regional body on Sunday, 26th November, 2023, stated.


ECOWAS said it reiterates its zero-tolerance for unconstitutional change of government, adding that it is committed to supporting democracy, good governance, peace, security and development in Sierra Leone.


“ECOWAS further underscores its commitment to supporting the government and people of Sierra Leone to deepen democracy and good governance; consolidate peace and security as well as foster socio-economic development,” the statement emphasized.


Earlier, a public notice from the Ministry of Information and Civic Education confirmed reports of heavy gunfire at Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown in the early hours of Sunday, November 26th, 2023.


The Ministry disclosed that, “Some unidentified individuals attempted to break into the military armoury at Wilberforce Barracks,” but confirmed that, “They have all been rebuffed.”


Following the incident, a nationwide curfew has been mounted.


“To enable security forces to continue the process of apprehending the suspects, a national curfew is declared with immediate effect across the country. We strongly advise citizens to stay indoors,” the public notice announced.


In a statement, President Julius Maada Bio described the incident as a breach of security and an attack on the military armoury at the said barracks.


Speaking on the current situation and assuring the public of security, President Bio said the attackers “Were repelled by our gallant security forces and calm has been restored,” adding that, “As the combined team of our security forces continue to root out the remnant of the fleeing renegades, a nationwide curfew has been declared and citizens are encouraged to stay indoors.”


The President noted that the peace of the country is priceless, while reiterating that his government “Shall continue to protect the peace and security of Sierra Leone against the forces that wish to truncate our much-cherished stability. We remain resolute in our determination to protect democracy in Sierra Leone and I urge all Sierra Leoneans to unite towards this collective responsibility.”


Umaru Fofana, BBC’s correspondent in Sierra Leone who has been following the happening closely, wrote on Facebook that they came face-to-face with soldiers who told them that, “We will clean this society. We know what we’re up to. We are not after any ordinary civilians who should go about their normal business”.

The BBC journalist said the face-to-face encounter with the military personnel happened at Congo Cross, some distance from the Wilberforce Barracks where the armoury attack occurred.


“Armed police, who were parked on the street with their vehicle freshly hit by bullet, initially advised us not to proceed. Seconds later they were lured into going back to the roundabout where I saw their vehicle being taken over by soldiers with RPG mounted on their shoulders. We made a U-turn but were curious to know what was happening. Then the soldiers drove towards us, stopped and told me and my colleague Kelvin Xander Lewis not to worry.” Mr. Fofana explained.


The country’s Chief Minister, Dr David Moinina Sengeh, wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the Government is in control, while encouraging people not to spread fake or unverified information.


“Our country is ours to protect. Our democracy is ours to keep. Our peace is ours to maintain. The government of President Bio is in full control. For now, we call on all citizens to stay safely at home. Don’t spread info not verified by the official government/state institutions,” he said.


Speaking to the BBC, Minster of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah said no casualty has been confirmed so far.


Asked on whether the action was a military coup, Mr. Bah said:

“I think the threshold for a military coup is something the security apparatus would determine, but indeed it seems like a coordinated attack at a major military installation, a very important one at that. So, once we are through with investigations and have sufficient information, we would be able to make a determination on whether it was an attempted coup,” he explained.


The Information Minister confirmed that the President is at his presidential lodge and he is fine and safe.

Abdul Karim Will, deputy director of strategic communication and spokesperson at the Office of National Security (ONS) told Expo Times that some arrests have been made.


Mr. Will said breaking into the armoury means not only getting ammunition of the State, but can indicate other hidden intentions.


In another development, there are reliable reports of prison break at the Pademba Road Central Prison where several prisoners are reported to have escaped.


The President and Government of Sierra Leone have assured that security forces are in control as the nation returns to normalcy.


Copy right – Expo Times News on Sunday, November 26th, 2023 (ExpoTimes News – Expo Media Group (